Jury deliberations began after closing arguments ended on Monday (Dec. 20) in the case of Kimberly Potter, the former suburban Minneapolis police officer charged with manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright during a traffic stop.
In their final remarks to the jury, prosecutor Erin Eldridge emphasized that Potter did not have “a license to kill,” according to the Associated Press. Defense attorney Earl Gray countered that Potter made an honest mistake–not a crime.
Potter, who is white, testified on Friday (Dec. 17) that she mistook her gun for a Taser when she fired at the 20-year-old Black man. The 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center, Minn., police force, was charged with first-degree and second-degree manslaughter.
If convicted, Potter faces up to 15 years in prison on the first-degree manslaughter charge and up to 10 years for the second-degree manslaughter charge, according to The New York Times. The two counts are separate and not mutually exclusive, meaning she can be convicted or acquitted of either charge or of both.
On April 11, Potter and other officers pulled Wright over for expired license plate tags but discovered he had outstanding warrants for his arrest. Footage of the traffic stop shows Wright initially outside of his vehicle. When the police realized he had a warrant for a misdemeanor weapons charge, he jumped back into his car apparently attempting to drive away.
Potter yelled, "Taser! Taser! Taser!" but drew her handgun instead of the Taser and fired a single shot. He drove away, only a few hundred feet, where his car was found crashed into another vehicle.
In her summation, the prosecutor said that Wright’s death was “entirely preventable” and could have been avoided, adding that Potter’s action amounts to a crime.
Eldridge said, “She drew a deadly weapon. She aimed it. She pointed it at Daunte Wright’s chest, and she fired.”
During the trial, Eldridge underscored that Potter had years of training to avoid mistaking her Taser for a gun.
"It was a tragedy of her own making. And it's not just a tragedy, it's manslaughter," CBS News quoted Eldridge. "She chose right instead of left. She chose wrong instead of right. She chose her gun and she shot and killed Daunte Wright."
In his summation, Gray blamed Wright for causing his own death by trying to flee from the cops.
"A mistake is not a crime," Gray said, according to CBS. "In the walk of life, nobody's perfect. Everybody makes mistakes. Some of those mistakes are small mistakes, but some of them are very serious."